Monday, 2 April 2012

Liverpool FC: a Comolli of errors

The Kop relies on elephantine memory
There's no doubt Kenny Dalglish is relying on his legendary status to remain as Liverpool manager at the moment.

Here was a man in his first year as player-boss who claimed the Reds the double, clinching the league at Chelsea and scoring the winner. Real Roy of the Rovers stuff from one of Britain's greatest ever players.

And of his second coming amid the dying embers of the Gillett, Hicks and Roy Hodgson gloom, which Kopite wouldn't have called for the Messiah back then?

But how long can King Kenny's credit last? Six defeats in seven games has left the summer's big spenders out of Europe and out of touch of the big sides. Liverpool FC a big brand? Yes. A big club? Measured against the new arrivals at football's top table in the form of Tottenham and Manchester City? it's highly questionable.

Not even Roy could match King Kenny's '86 triumph
During the latest defeat at Newcastle, I was surprised to see Steven Gerrard shoeing Dalglish off the pitch in a "stop interfering" kind of way. Gerrard is about the only one at Anfield with the status to do such a impudent thing to the gaffer - and it was telling.

But the blame for Liverpool's plight can't entirely be placed at Dalglish's door. It's transfer policy which has been a major let-down too - and that's squarely the responsibility of Damien Comolli.

Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll have yielded just six goals between them. The quartet cost owner John W. Henry an eye-watering eighty million quid in the summer.

Comolli talking a good game with the owner.
They're all British too. Now, I'm not battering the reputations of home-grown players. Indeed, the English backbone of Chelsea and Manchester United has served them rather well over the years. But the contention of building a new team from the British Isles is misguided when as a Premier League club, one can attract the best of the world.

It's just not true that British players settle in better or faster. A high-level professional from Togo or Tel Aviv is just as reliable. But Comolli seems to think so.

Without qualifying for the Champions League, the best players, whatever their nationality won't be Anfield-bound anymore. Without them, Liverpool will become Premier League also-rans. Despite splashing out in the summer, that's what they've become this year.

As with other victorious Carling Cup managers, trophy glory doesn't guarantee job security and sometimes it's the straw that breaks the back of relegation.

Let's not forget Juande Ramos has still won one more piece of silverware at White Hart Lane than Harry Redknapp, but the Spaniard was taken out in a midnight cloak and dagger exit months later.

Alex McLeish steered Birmingham City to the League Cup last year - but at huge cost to the Second City's Second Club, as they were relegated. Next thing you know, it was out of the frying pan and into the fire for Big Eck when Aston Villa came calling.

So it's a results business whether you're Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish, former Spurs boss Glenn Hoddle or Newcastle's Kevin Keegan (twice). And if things don't turnaround fast, I can see the passwords to the Liverpool bank account reset for a new manager this summer. Kenny's got to be the on the edge.

But it's not just players that lose managers their jobs these days. It's Directors of Football too.

More on Dalglish at Anfield here. Click here for Dalglish: Never Go Back (written back in January last year)